Understanding attitude is key to successful stakeholder management

Change Management, Risk Management

Projects lead to changes – something that many people instinctively are sceptical about or even hostile to. No matter how well planned a project is, there is always a risk it will fall flat unless the change it brings is accepted by the people affected by it. A vital part of securing project success involves correctly identifying and managing stakeholders. Nevertheless, this is all too often neglected and forgotten when designing and implementing change initiatives.

I’ve seen several projects fail to deliver intended results despite proper planning, structure and solid business cases. When analysing the reasons for failure, it’s clear that these projects often have lacked support from key stakeholders. This means that the management support that a change initiative so badly needs simply isn´t there.

Efficient stakeholder management paves the way for future implementation and is crucial for managing change successfully. How we identify our stakeholders and what strategies we apply when managing them is key in this process. Stakeholders are commonly identified and managed based on influence and interest, which is a good way of understanding their importance. However, to build a solid strategy for successful stakeholder management we need a third parameter, namely attitude.

The rational is simple: all key stakeholders must be managed closely, but there is a great difference in how to manage a key stakeholder who is positive towards the change you bring and how to manage someone who is negative. The ones who are positive will be your natural promotors, and you should consider involving them in the steering committee and using them as ambassadors. On the other hand, powerful stakeholders who are negative should be considered as major project risks. To minimise the damage they can inflict to your project, you need to apply a separate strategy for managing them.

At 3gamma we’re working with a framework that applies a structured approach for categorising your stakeholders based on influence, interest and attitude. For each category, the framework suggests strategic approaches for how to best manage your stakeholders in order to minimise the risk of project failure (see figure above).

If you’re interested in learning more about the 3gamma way of managing stakeholders – please get in touch with Staffan Willstrand, head of IT project management and delivery.

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